Ranking every major Batman performance from worst to best
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There can be only one...
Tim Burton's original stab at bringing the Caped Crusader to the big screen is now 30 years young.
In honour of that milestone, let's go through every major Batman performance and rank them, critically, from worst to best.
Tough decisions but here we go...
#8. George Clooney
The leap from TV to Hollywood megastardom isn't always the easiest, and George Clooney deserves serious praise for managing to shake off the Batman & Robin stench.
Clooney is a terrific actor, but he never felt right as Bruce Wayne even with the playboy good looks and charm, and his Batman was a total cartoon thanks entirely to script and direction.
He did his best, but, well, you've seen it.
#7. Ben Affleck
Batfleck sounded alright on paper.
Daredevil had major problems, but Affleck made for a decent Matt Murdock (the hair, however, was seriously questionable). He vowed never to play a superhero again, until a gritty Batman re-do came calling.
Introduced in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Affleck-fronted Batman quickly became infamous for his casual, gleeful attitude to outright murder and a general glowering miserable personality.
Yet again, the script proved the downfall as the actor clearly tried to make his mark.
The idea of a greying, burned out Bruce Wayne struggling to keep his morals in check as society crumbles around him is compelling enough, but Zack Synder's penchant for edgy nonsense ruined things.
By the time Justice League rolled around, Affleck's apathy was visible and he soon gave up the cowl altogether. Third time's the charm?
#6. Val Kilmer
Famously moody Val Kilmer playing Bruce Wayne as a violently depressed loner against a hyper-realised Joel Schumacher backdrop with a screaming Jim Carrey and cackling Tommy Lee Jones for company, you say?
Oddly enough, Batman Forever, for all its plus points, just didn't work.
Kilmer looked the part, and did offer some conviction when it came to Bruce's pain, but the lack of chemistry with pretty much every co-star and the overall tonal disconnect resulted in a one-and-done that nobody really laments.
#5. LEGO Batman
Perhaps the most fearsome of all.
#4. Adam West
Try and imagine the 1960s Batman without him.
The word 'iconic' is thrown around an awful lot these days, but West's inspired mayhem as Batman really is something to behold.
A true one-of-a-kind who managed to bring both gravitas and complete comedy to the role.
Batman really shouldn't be funny, but this era has its own strange place in history, and the late West deserves the lion's share of the kudos.
#3. Christian Bale
Not perfect, by any means - the voice never felt right, did it? - but you can't fault the commitment of Christian Bale.
Though he'd ultimately be defeated by The Dark Knight Rises, Bale will go down for many as the definitive Batman thanks to his part in resurrecting the franchise.
Playing opposite Heath Ledger's Joker definitely helps his case, but for this writer, Bale's finest moment came in his first adventure, right at the very end.
Stood opposite the future Commissioner Gordon having saved the day at the 11th hour and faced with the prospect of further chaos to keep in check, the Batman who has indeed begun sums up the virtue of a hero in just a few words.
Gordon: "I never said thank you."
Batman: "And you'll never have to."
#2. Kevin Conroy
The voice of a generation that brought Batman to life in the superb animated series and later the Arkham video game run, Kevin Conroy didn't need to bulk up or perform epic stunts or even leg it down the street carrying a comical-looking explosive device.
He just had to make Bruce Wayne sound like a guy worth rooting for, and Batman an intimidating champion of justice to be reckoned with.
There's an authority to the way he speaks, no matter what he's saying, making the animated series and especially the video games a true hero's journey to experience.
You also have the chance to meet the great man when he comes to Ireland later this year. For all the info on An Evening With Kevin Conroy, click here.
#1. Michael Keaton
You wanna get nuts? C'MON! Let's get nuts.
Michael Keaton has never looked like a professional wrestler, and that's the point.
Tim Burton's vision of Batman was of a normal-looking guy who transforms himself into something otherworldly and nightmarish, and thus his Bruce Wayne needed to be something of an everyman.
Keaton was charismatic enough to play the billionaire, also imbuing him with a sense of loneliness and social awkwardness. Underneath it all, he's a hero, but he's got serious issues, too.
Hence the whole dressing up as a giant bat thing.
Burton may not have fully explored the precise weirdness of a rich human being with no supernatural powers deciding to play superhero in the dead of night - has anyone? - but Keaton's presence is a perfect duality.
If the Robert Pattinson-fronted reboot ends up going down the Batman Beyond route, they could do a lot worse than bringing Keaton back into the fold...
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